Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
An asteroid about the size of a city block will be making its way past Earth later today, and Slooh plans on giving the world access to its tools to view the near-Earth object (NEO).
Slooh, a leader in live, celestial event programming, said in a statement earlier this week that it will be broadcasting the asteroid 2013 ET on Saturday (Mar 9) as the it passes by Earth at about 2.5 times the Moon’s distance from us.
2013 ET was first discovered on March 3, 2013 by the Catalina Sky Survey, and astronomers believe it is between 210- and 460-feet wide. Slooh said at its maximum brightness, the asteroid will have a magnitude of 17, which is not bright enough to view through a backyard telescope. So, for anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the NEO, Slooh could be a great option.
“We only have a short viewing window of an hour or so from our Canary Islands observatory on March 9th, but we wanted to give the general public a front row seat to witness this new asteroid in real time as it passes by Earth,” said Slooh president Patrick Paolucci.
2013 ET will be rushing through space at a velocity of 26,552 MPH, which is 15 times faster than a bullet barreling out of a rifle. According to Slooh, if the asteroid were to strike Earth, it could create enough damage to destroy a small city.
“The recent flurry of asteroidal close calls and near misses, including the double whammy of DA14 and the Siberian meteor on February 15th, is starting to make our region of space seem like a video game or pinball contest,” said Astronomer Bob Berman, columnist and contributing editor of Astronomy magazine. “This latest interloper arrives just as serious debates are unfolding as to the obvious need for more and better monitoring of potentially hazardous asteroids crossing our orbit — and even whether we should develop a ℠deflection´ system.”
The asteroid will not be the only big celestial event taking place in our skies this weekend. Comet PANSTARRS will be making its appearance in the Northern Hemisphere finally this weekend, just above the horizon. Scientists believe this comet will shine as brightly as the stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper or Orion’s belt. This comet will no longer be seen in the evening sky by the end of March, but it will be visible just before sunrise.
Perhaps the main event for backyard astronomers this year will be comet ISON. This November comet has the potential to become as bright as the moon, and possibly may even be seen during the daytime hours.
Below is Slooh’s live broadcast of tonight’s asteroid as it passes by. The show will begin at 3:45 eastern time.